Sunday was another trek down improbability lane.
The Giants moved to 0-8 in games started by Lincecum since May 4. They are 22-5 in all other games.
That stat is simply staggering.
Lincecum’s state line Sunday fell right into his normal pattern this season: five runs on nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up five singles, three doubles and a triple.
Unlike some of his past outings, it wasn’t one bad inning. He gave one run in the third, two in the fourth and two in the sixth.
Yet with good defense, Lincecum could have escaped with just one run allowed. With great defense, he could have not allowed a run at all.
Let’s take a look back:
In the third with a runner on third and two out, Adrian Beltre sent a one-hop bullet past Pablo Sandoval. It was hit so hard that it went for a double despite being hit to Sandoval’s left. It was a clean hit, but with quicker reflexes and range, it could have been an outing.
In the fourth with a runner on first and one out, Craig Gentry hit a sharp grounder to Sandoval, who went to backhand the ball. But it hit off the heel of his glove and went for an infield hit. Now with two one and one out, Alexis Ogando tried to bunt the runners over. His bunt was hard and to the left of Lincecum. Instead of charging the ball, Sandoval retreated at first to cover third. By the time he recovered, Ogando was safe with another infield hit. Ian Kinsler then pulled a double down the left-field line to score two.
Now some may say that even if Ogando had been thrown out, Kinsler’s double still would have scored two. But with two out and first base open, Lincecum may have taken a different approach with Kinsler. The bigger play was Sandoval’s inability to field Gentry’s grounder. If he does that, Lincecum like gets out of the inning by getting Ogando out.
In the sixth with one on and no out, Sandoval fielded Robbie Ross’ bunt. But his throw to second required an extra effort by Brandon Crawford to catch the ball and eliminated any chance at a double play. Kinsler then grounded to Crawford, who in his haste to try to turn two made a bad exchange from glove to hand. So instead of getting one out, or maybe even two, both runners were safe. It was ruled a hit. Then Elvis Andrus hit a one hopper right at Sandoval, who did not field the ball cleanly and was only able to get the force out at second, instead of an inning-ending double play. So Lincecum got three straight infield grounders, but only two outs. Then Josh Hamilton hammered a two-run double to end Lincecum’s day.
So with some defensive help, Lincecum’s day could have been much different. But the Lincecum of old would generally find his way out of trouble, even if the defense helped create the mess. But not this Lincecum.
Lincecum gave up four extra base-hits. Three of them came with two outs and runners on base, leading to all five of his runs allowed.
Not that much of this mattered Sunday. With the Giants’ inept offensive effort Sunday, all the Rangers needed was that first run.
But we grow tired of making excuses for Lincecum. He needs to get this figured out and soon.
The schedule is there to help him. His next start will come Saturday in his hometown (hometownish, he’s actually from Renton) of Seattle against the weak-hitting Mariners. Then, he’ll face another weak-hitting team — the Athletics in Oakland.
Of course facing a weak-hitting team in a pitcher-friendly park didn’t help Lincecum last week against the Padres, so we’ll see.
At first glance at Tuesday’s start, it seems like the same old story for Tim Lincecum.
One bad inning.
Lincecum gave up four runs on five hits — and just one walk — in six innings of work. All four runs (not to mention four of the hits and the lone walk) occurred in the second inning.
In the other five innings, Lincecum set down 15 of the 16 batters he faced. Carlos Quentin’s sixth-inning double was the lone baserunner in those innings. All eight of Lincecum’s strikeouts came after the Padres’ four-run second.
But even the second inning wasn’t as terrible as it looked.
It started off bad, with a Quentin home run followed by a Chase Headley double.
After John Baker flied out, Logan Fosythe walked, then Everth Cabrera singled home the second run.
But this is where Lincecum almost escaped without further damage.
Anthony Bass, attempting to sacrifice, bunted hard to Brandon Belt, who threw out Forsythe at third. But in making the glove exchange, third baseman Joaquin Arias dropped the ball, preventing an inning-ending double play.
However, on second glance, the Giants were lucky to get one out on the play.
Replays showed that Arias not only came off the bag before catching the ball, it’s not even clear he caught the ball cleanly at all. So could have easily had been bases loaded with one out.
That’s important because Cameron Maybin then hit a Lincecum changeup off his shoe tops for a broken-bat, two-run double.
Lincecum said: “Nine times out of 10 if I throw that same pitch to him, maybe it’s a double play.”
Well, as long as Starlin Castro isn’t your shortstop.
But after the second, Lincecum shut down the Padres and gave his team a chance to rally, which they did by tying the game with a three-run sixth.
The Giants even took the lead in the seventh, giving Lincecum the chance to get the win.
But home runs in the eighth by Quentin and in the ninth of Forsythe (his first career home run) turned a possible win into a Giants loss — the seventh consecutive loss in a Lincecum start.
Since May 4, the Giants are 0-7 in Lincecum starts; 19-5 in starts by the other four starters.
Madison Bumgarner starts against Clayton Richard in a funky San Diego 3:35 p.m. start.
Well, it was a quality start for Tim Lincecum. We can at least say that.
For only the second time this season, Lincecum notched a quality start, giving up two runs (one earned) in seven innings. He walked five and struck out six, giving up four hits in a 112-pitch outing.
But as it turns out that wasn’t enough to get him, nor the Giants, a win.
While Lincecum avoided the big inning that has haunted him so much this season, he was again bitten by poor pitch selection.
With two out in the sixth, Lincecum was facing Paul Goldschmidt, a hitter who is 6 for 11 with three home runs off Lincecum.
Lincecum started off by throwing a high hanging curveball. Then with the count 1-0, he tried a low curveball, which Goldschmidt dug out and drove over the left-field fence.
It would have been better for Lincecum to work around Goldschmidt and instead go after Chris Young, a batter Lincecum has had better success against. And if he decides to pitch to Goldschmidt, don’t give him anything he can hit out to left … like a curveball.
It should have been fastballs and changeups away. Make him hit it out to right.
Some may say with the Diamondbacks adding on two runs in the seventh and the Giants held to one run, it didn’t really matter.
But if Lincecum gets out of the sixth still tied at 1-1, it’s likely the Giants would have gone with someone other than Steve Edlefsen out of the bullpen.
Lincecum can at least take this outing and build off of it. He’ll get the Cubs next on Monday. Another chance for another solid outing.
Melky Cabrera collected his 51st hit of May in the ninth to tie Randy Winn for the most by a San Francisco Giants hitter in a month.
The Giants take Thursday off before opening a four-game set with the Cubs.
Same story, different game.
Tim Lincecum looked good, very good at times against the Miami Marlins.
His fastball was topping out at 93 mph.
He held the Marlins to one run through five innings.
He successfully managed to work himself out of jams in the first and fifth innings.
But, oh, that blowup inning.
And what makes the blowup inning more frustrating is that is could have been avoided.
Let’s relive Lincecum’s disaster inning this time.
- Omar Infante doubles
- Hanley Ramirez strikes out looking.
- Giancarlo Stanton singles, scoring Infante (first sign of trouble)
- Logan Morrison walks (second sign of trouble)
- Bryan Peterson singles to right, but doesn’t tie game only because the Marlins held up Stanton at third (third sign of trouble)
- John Buck flies out to DEEP center. So deep that all three runnners tag up (fourth sign of trouble)
- Chris Coughlan homers. Marlins lead 6-3. Lincecum is removed from game (time to call the fire truck, even though the house has already burned to the ground).
When asked if he had any second thoughts about going to get Lincecum earlier, manager Bruce Bochy got grumpy.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Bochy said. “Who he’s facing? The bottom of the order? As much as we’ve used the pen? His pitch count was fine. I didn’t struggle at all. If I’ve got to take him out with who he’s facing, we’re hurting.”
Hey, Boch. You’re ace is who is making $21 million is 2-5 with a 6.41 ERA. We think you’re hurting.
To Bochy’s credit, Lincecum did only throw 97 pitches when he was lifted, 60 of them for strikes. And the bottom of the Marlins’ order is hardly tearing it up. But there were some tell-tale signs that Lincecum was heading down the worn-out road to destruction in the sixth.
The hits to Infante (hitting .340) and Stanton (hitting .289) are somewhat excusable. But when he walks Morrison (hitting .224), you have to start wondering.
When he gives up a hit to Peterson (hitting .188), red flags should start going off in your head.
The LOUD sacrifice fly to Buck (hitting .170)? Hello? Even with Lincecum facing Coughlan, hitting .106 at the time, it may have been time to get him.
But he didn’t.
It’s not about Lincecum’s arm right now. It’s as much about his psyche. Getting The Freak right does not involve a start when he’s second-guessing himself.
And that alone should have made Bochy second guess himself.
The Giants turn next to Madison Bumgarner to face Mark Buerhle at 1:10 p.m. Saturday. At least the offense is still producing.
Tim Lincecum got somewhat lost amid the late-game theatrics in Tuesday’s loss to the Rockies.
Lincecum’s final line was nothing to write home about — four runs on seven hits and three walks in seven innings. Yet through five innings, Lincecum was very good, allowing just one run on three hits and one walk.
He retired the side in order in the first two innings, striking out three. He did not allow his first hit until the fourth inning.
But things rapidly went awry in the sixth with Angel Pagan’s foolish decision to attempt a shoe-string catch on Troy Tulowitzki’s liner to center.
Instead of playing the ball on a hop for a single, Pagan tried to make a lunging catch. But the ball went under his glove and all the way to the center-field wall for a single and a two-base error. If Tulowitzki weren’t so hobbled by a bruise foot sustained Tuesday, he would have easily rounded the bases and scored. Instead, he simply jogged to third.
Ever the apologist, manager Bruce Bochy gave Pagan a pass.
“That’s part of the game when you’re hopefully playing aggressive,” Bochy said. “I don’t want these guys to go the other way. I probably would have felt worse if he had backed off and caught it on one hop there if he had a chance to catch it. And he was pretty close to catching that.”
OK, there’s a difference between playing aggressively and playing smart. The Giants need to play smart, and they need a manager who understands that.
First, as a center fielder with a ball hit directly at you, you have to know that if you miss it that will lead to big, BIG trouble because it’s unlikely someone will be there to back you up. It’s much different on a ball hit to either gap, when either the left or right fielder could be in position to back you up.
Also, the situation dictates how you play that. If there’s a runner on third with two outs and the liner to center is hit, yeah, be aggressive. Try to catch the ball to prevent the run.
But this was with one out and no one on. Then it becomes a risk-reward situation. You could A) catch the ball for an out; B) play the ball on a hop for a one-out single to a slow-moving baserunner who will clog up the basepaths; or C) miss the catch and potentially turn it into a four-base play.
The smart play is to play it on a hop and trust that Lincecum can work around the one-out single … like he had done previously in the game.
Instead, there’s a runner on third with one out. So Lincecum pitches around Todd Helton for his second walk, trying to set up a double play. He gets Michael Cuddyer to hit a grounder, but it’s right over the third-base bag for a double, scoring Tulowitzki.
Then Lincecum walks Ramon Hernandez to load the bases. Lincecum gets Jordan Pacheco to hit a fly to shallow center, which should have afforded Pagan a chance to throw out the slow-footed Helton. But Pagan’s throw is nowhere near the plate, and Helton scores.
Pagan’s aggrssiveness led to two runs being scored. It led to two of Lincecum’s three walks (which were basically intentional). It led to a stressful inning that caused Lincecum’s pitch count to mount. And it led to Lincecum to wonder what he needs to do to pitch better when in fact, he did his job.
But apparently all of that is perfectly fine with Bochy.
If I told you that Tim Lincecum regularly hit 93 mph on the speed gun, walked just two and struck out eight, including Matt Kemp three times as part of an 0-for-5 night, you’d have to think it was a great night for the Freak and the Giants.
Oh, it was a so close to being true.
The game got away from Lincecum in the fourth inning, and Giants could not recover. Lincecum put himself in a bad position by leaving some pitches up. But his outstanding start to the game was completely undone by one bad pitch.
Giants fans had to feel good after Lincecum got through the first inning unscathed. He mixed in a walk and a single in-between three strikeouts in a 24-pitch frame.
But he was back to his dominant self in the second and third innings, with his fastball hitting 93 mph and his slider at 87 mph, a good 3-4 mph bump from his previous outings.
Then came the fourth. It started with Andre Ethier lacing a double to right. Lincecum left a pitch up and Bobby Abreu slapped it into center, with Ethier holding at third.
Juan Uribe hit a ball sharply to third that Joaquin Arias was able to glove, but slipped when he went to throw Abreu out at second. That went for an infield single as Ethier scored.
A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third before a James Loney struck out for the first out.
Lincecum walked AJ Ellis on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Dodger skipper Don Mattingly pinch-hit for pitcher Chad Billingsley, calling on Tony Gwynn Jr.
But Lincecum jumped out to an 0-2 count. And that’s when he hung a curve ball right in the middle of the plate that Gwynn whacked to right for a three-run triple. Dodgers 4, Giants 2.
And that was it.
“You’re questioning yourself during games and during situations like that,” Lincecum said. “It’s just about execution. That’s what it comes down to making a better pitch in a situation where you’re ahead in the count, it’s in your favor and you’ve got their guy guessing. So why give the guy a cookie down the middle that he can see well?”
Why indeed. Lincecum got out of the fourth with the 4-2 deficit. He would pitch the fifth before exiting with 101 pitches, 74 for strikes.
The fourth inning had a double-negative effect on the Giants. It created an opportunity for the Dodgers to get Billngsley out of the game.
The Giants tagged Billingsley for seven hits and four walks in four innings, but again failed to big hit to break the game open.
Actually, two Nate Schierholtz plays on the basepaths really hurt the Giants.
In the second, after drawing a one-out walk, Schierholtz was caught stealing second base. That was followed by a walk to Arias, single by Brandon Crawford and single by Tim Lincecum that produced the game’s first run, when it should have produced at least two.
In the third, it got worse for Schierholtz.
Melky Cabrera had a one-out triple and scored on Buster Posey’s single. Brandon Belt grounded into a force play, but Schierholtz singled to put runners on first and second. Arias singled to center that appeared to score Belt, but Schierholtz made a big turn around second and scrambled back to the bag. Matt Kemp alertly saw this and threw Schierholtz out BEFORE Belt came across the plate.
That’s two runs the Giants left on the base paths, perhaps even more.
As we’ve said before, the Giants don’t have the kind of offense to keep making mistakes that prevent runs from being scored.
The Giants get a day off Thursday before opening a three-game series in Arizona, who are riding a five-game losing streak.
It was another episode of Dr. Lincecum and Mr. Freak. We’ll let you decide who’s the genius and who’s the monster.
The Giants suffered their fourth straight loss after what started as a mind-numbing start by Tim Lincecum but then finished strong.
Lincecum started by throwing 11 of his first 13 pitches for balls. One of the strikes was a swinging strike at pitch out of the strike zone. The other strike resulted in Corey Hart graciously hitting into a force play.
The Brewers score their first run without a hit — on hit batter, two walks and a wild pitch. Jonathan Lucroy had the only hit in the inning, a two-run single for a 3-0 lead. Lincecum threw 24 pitches in the inning with only 10 strikes.
The second inning also another disaster, 26 pitches, two more walks before Lincecum escaped a bases-loaded jam without allowing a run.
Then he flipped the switch, retiring the last 10 batters he faced.
“To see myself, a guy who’s been able to do things my way and get away with it, it’s a little different to have to grind through things when you never really had to,” Lincecum said. “I’m getting in modes where I’m overthinking things too much instead of just going out there and trusting. That’s the biggest thing, go out there and have confidence in what you’ve got that day.”
BOCHY BUNGLES AGAIN
On Thursday, with runners on second and third and out, Giants manager Bruce Bochy pinch-hit for the left-handed Brandon Crawford with the left-handed hitting Nate Schierholtz, who had been mired in a 1-for-22 slump. Schierholtz hacked at the first pitch he saw and fouled out. The Giants did not score in that inning.
Flash forward to Friday night. The Giants loaded the bases with one out and Lincecum due up in the fifth. Even though Lincecum had only thrown 84 pitchers — 34 his last three innings after 50 in his first two — Bochy decided to hit for his pitcher in an effort to get more runs. So who does he send into bat? Schierholtz, who struck out swinging. The Giants wouldn’t score any more runs that inning. Travis Blackley came into the game to pitch in the sixth and the Brewers scored their fourth run of the game on a SUICIDE SQUEEZE PLAY!!!
ODDS AND ENDS
- The way things are going for the Giants, little things because huge things. In the Giants 3-run sixth that tied the game at 4-4, umpire Ed Rapuano’s blown call turned out to be a huge play. The Giants had just scored two runs in the inning and had Buster Posey on first with nobody out. Angel Pagan appeared to beat out an infield single, but Rapuano called him out. But if Rapuano makes the right call, Posey is on second and Pagan on first with no one out. A passed ball with Brandon Belt hitting moves the runners to second and third. Then when Belt shoots the ball past Rickie Weeks for an error, that play scores two runs, instead of one, and the Giants take a 5-4 lead. Rapuano’s makeup call on an infield squibber by Emmanuel Burriss a few plays later did not help the Giants recoup that lost run.
- Sergio Romo goofed by pitching to Aramis Ramirez with runners on second and third and two out in the seventh. If he pitched to Ramirez, it should have out of the strike zone to get him to chase and strikeout. With the open base, it would have better to go after Alex Gonzalez. Instead, Romo came into A-Ram and he smacked it into left for a two-run single, the difference in the game.
- Angel Pagan extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
Madison Bumgarner goes for his fifth win when he faces lefty Randy Wolf in a 1:05 p.m. FOX game. Wouldn’t be surprised to see this lineup:
CF Angel Pagan
SS Joaquin Arias
RF Melky Cabrera
1B Buster Posey
C Hector Sanchez
LF Brett Pill
3B Connor Gillaspie
2B Ryan Theriot